The lion drawing this is over is public domain. From the Atlas of Animal Anatomy, by Ellenberger. an EXCELLENT addition to your library. I reference this book on almost every single serious drawing I do.
When people give comments like 'wow, I wish I could draw like you!' this is usually what I recommend: informed practice. (that's a fancy way of saying work. well, no...work smart
.) I think the notion that some people are just born with talent and others are not is false--talent is just liking something enough to not give up on it, and the desire to become better at it no matter how daunting.
So, this is the less glorious side of drawing: the long hours admiring others work is nothing compared to a solid hour copying. Admiring a picture is like waterskiing--you'd never know it if you skiied right over the top of the great barrier reef (I assume). If you scuba dive it though, or even snorkel--you're going to get a whole different experience of the same place.
This is a layover of a one hour pen study of a lion, from Atlas of Animal Anatomy by W. Ellenberger. I do the drawing as best I can, then scan it, and see how close I am. It's a brutally honest way of finding where I'm faking it, and where I'm doing all right.
This trick really highlights stylistic tendencies and preferences too: I like long limbs and graceful necks. I subconsciously raised the head, probably falling back on horse and dog anatomy: areas I'm a bit more familiar with than cats. Major weaknesses in knowledge showed up in the hindquarters more than anything: I beefed up the legs a bit too much, and gave a much more sloped hindquarters than the actual lion, which is probably because I had been looking at saber-tooth cat skeletons; notably, Smilodon populator which had long, strong forequarters (seriously, the thing was built like a tank) and sloping hindquarters.
After finishing the layover, I went back to my sketchbook with red pencil and carefully drew in where the actual silhouette is to mentally reinforce the lesson, and provide hard copy reference to fall back on.
Also posted on my blog
Underlion would be © to W. Ellenberger, but he's dead. Thanks Mr. Ellenberger (for the beautiful drawing, not for dying...)
Overdrawing is by me.